With free agency looming in March, roster turnover isn’t far away. However, the majority of the 2019 roster is already in place. In the coming weeks, DallasCowboys.com will feature players who are currently under contract for next season, analyzing their past season and their future prospects.
Today, we continue the series with cornerback Jourdan Lewis.
“Next man up” is one of head coach Jason Garrett’s popular adages. Jourdan Lewis embodied that phrase at different times last season – not so much as an injury replacement, but simply because he stayed ready for opportunities.
A third-round draft pick in 2017, Lewis went from part-time starter to fourth cornerback in 2018 under new secondary coach/passing game coordinator Kris Richard. But he made impactful plays when called upon (see “2018 Highlight” below) and pitched in on offense and special teams (2 “jet sweep” runs for 12 yards, 2 kickoff returns for 18 yards).More than anything – really, through little fault of his own – it’s Lewis’ difficulty finding snaps in a talented secondary.
As Cowboys chief operating officer Stephen Jones said recently, “I think we’ve got one of the best corner staffs in the league in terms of depth. When Jourdan Lewis is not getting a lot of plays, I think that tells you a lot.” Although the 5-foot-10 Lewis isn’t the tall, rangy corner prototype Richard has coached in previous stops, the Cowboys still value his ball skills and instincts. But Byron Jones crowded the depth chart by moving to corner and producing an All-Pro season. Anthony Brown also had a solid year after earning the No. 3 corner spot in training camp. It’s a good problem for Richard and defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli.Play for play, Lewis’ game against the Saints’ vaunted offense was among the most productive by anybody on the roster last season. In only eight defensive snaps, he posted a tackle, a pass breakup and a fingertip victory-sealing interception against Drew Brees. He also did a solid job covering versatile running back Alvin Kamara.
Players generally like when there’s a coaching change, especially if that player felt he wasn’t getting treating fairly. Jourdan Lewis was a starter and a productive player during his rookie season, but the secondary coach change from Joe Baker to Kris Richard left him on the outside looking in. Richard moved Byron Jones from safety to corner, replacing Lewis, who suddenly was reduced not even to a nickel but the sixth man in the dime. To say Lewis was disappointed would have been an understatement, and it wasn’t until the coaches began to use Lewis on offense that he once again gained his swagger back. Lewis might not have played a ton of offensive snaps, but it made him feel useful again. Lewis’ demeanor improved, and so did his play, especially when given the assignment of carrying Kamara all over the field in a key victory against the Saints in primetime. In Lewis’ young career that was his finest hour and it proved to the coaches that if given the opportunity to excel he was more than capable of doing the job.
Cowboys cornerback Jourdan Lewis joined the The Fan’s Ben & Skin show to talk about the growth he experienced during his rookie season, and some of the competition he’ll have to face heading into his second year in Dallas. Here are some of the highlights:
There’s a bunch of different personalities, but at the end of the day we’re teammates. All those guys are great guys honestly, so it’s been easy to come in and just gel with those guys–especially guys that you came in with. Chidobe [Awuzie] is probably one of the most competitive people I’ve met in anything. He wan’t to drive faster than me if we’re going somewhere. It’s just like, you understand each others personalities, so its just like “okay, it’s a give or take every time”. It’s definitely worked out for us and I’m just excited to see where it leads us.
In the beginning, you’re just playing. [Coaches] aren’t really expecting anything from you and you’re just going out there and just doing what they ask you to do. And then, once you get into it, they start asking you to do a little more within your role as it increases. You have to do all these things, and mentally you have to really lock in because they’re leaning on you…
At the end of the day, it’s football and you have to be a professional now. You don’t have school or anything like that you have to do. You just have to go out there and go to practice, get the game plan down and watch film. Once I got that down, what to look for in my opponents and stuff like that, [the game] kind of slowed down for me. I’m expecting it to be even better this year.
That’s what we have to do. Coach Marinelli tells us that we won’t get on the field unless we’re physical. [The Denver game] was definitely an outlier. We learned from that, but its not who we are honestly. That’s a defense you’ll never see again because we’re preparing our hardest to get in season and be in mid-season form in Week 1.
You have a very small window for error and that’s the difference between having a pick and the other guy scoring on you. It’s crazy how small that window is. When you’re in college, you have those games where you know you’re going to have big numbers–nobody’s going to catch a ball. And then you have games like when you play Ohio State or Florida State. It’s like that in the NFL and you have to play every game. There’s someone on that team who can potentially go off on you, so you have to be on your A game every time you step on the field. That’s pretty much the difference I saw from college to the pros. It really doesn’t matter. I think the outside is easier to me–there’s less to learn. As the nickel, your run fits are different every single play. There are so many adjustments in the nickel, where as at corner, very few coverages.
Dallas Cowboys cornerback Jourdan Lewis was found not guilty of misdemeanor domestic violence Tuesday following an alleged altercation with his ex-girlfriend in March, according to ESPN.com’s Michael Rothstein.
Lewis, 21, pleaded not guilty to one count of misdemeanor domestic violence a month before the NFL Draft after he engaged in a late-night argument with Nikole Miller.
According to MLive.com’s John Counts, Lewis admitted to hitting Miller with the pillow he was sleeping on but was “adamant” he did not strike her with his hands.
“None of this was malicious intent,” Lewis said, per Counts. “I was just trying to get out of the house.”
A former University of Michigan standout, Lewis was selected 92nd overall by the Cowboys in the third round of April’s draft.
As a rookie, he’s expected to compete for snaps as a slot cornerback after the Cowboys used four draft picks to bolster their secondary in advance of the 2017 season.